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I Signed Up for 5 Sex Toy and Lingerie Mail Subscriptions -- It Was a Little Bit Sexy, and a Whole Lot of Yucky

Probably not the best way to spice things up in the bedroom.
 
 
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I don’t do product reviews. That’s mainly because my modesty has funny boundaries — writing a deeply personal essay about sex? Sure! Reviewing a vibrator? Why, I could never. Who do you think I am?! But the recent explosion of companies offering monthly mailings of sex toys and lingerie — all of them modeled after the wildly popular Birchbox, a subscription service for sampling beauty products — begs for an exception.

That said, allow me to express my general cynicism going into this. I tend to think that Birchbox, as with most things, is a capitalist invention that helps fuel consumer insecurity and delusion about the potential for the right product to make them finally love themselves. (I have also considered subscribing.) In the same way, Birchbox-for-sex products hold the promise of fixing your sex life, which, if it’s really in ruins, can probably only be improved by things that money can’t easily buy.

But the novelty and surprise of a monthly mailing service does seem well-suited to “spicing things up in the bedroom,” as they say. So I will proceed under the assumption that none of us are expecting to magically gain self-esteem or fix an emotionally dead marriage with any of these products. Deal? Deal.

SpicySubscriptions

This service costs $24.95 a month — or $34.95 for the deluxe version — and arrived at my doorstep in a discreet brown box, but inside the goods were swaddled in — what else? — hot-pink tissue paper. First up: a “$50 Wine Gift Card.” “Whoa, awesome,” I thought. Then I looked at the small print on the back: “To claim your $50 discount you must purchase wine totaling at least $51.” Never mind.

Moving along, there was a plastic heart-shaped bottle reading, “Liquid Love: Warming Massage Lotion.” As soon as I opened the top I exclaimed, “Ew, this reeks!” My partner rubbed it on his hand and determined, “It only smells worse when you spread it out.” After some reflection, he added, “It does smell like massage oil … that we’ve been using to massage each other’s buttholes. It kind of smells a little bit like poop.” (Did I mention that he’s a poet?) We were too distracted by the smell to notice whether it was actually “warming.” Panic ensued when I lost the cap under the couch for a moment and thought I might have to pour the Liquid Love down the drain to escape the noxious smell.

The next item looked no more promising: a test-tube shaped container with orange liquid sloshing around inside. “Sex Shots Ultra: Sexual Performance Drink,” the bottle announced. Fully taking responsibility for this project, I asked my partner to try it. He took a whiff. “This smells like something I shouldn’t drink,” he said, but took a swig. “It tastes like watered-down cough syrup, or like I accidentally poured some moisturizer into my glass of water — but not just any moisturizer, like a 12-year-old girl’s moisturizer that she got from Claire’s Accessories.” Indeed, I tried it and immediately spat it out.

The “Octo-pleaser,” a purple plastic massager shaped like an octopus, boasted “8 fingers of fun.” Applied to the back it feels … fine. Nothing to write home about.

Then there was the presumed star of the box: The Neon Luv Touch Lipstick Vibe, which looks like a tube of lipstick (I mean, I guess. In the same way that a dog’s “Chewy Vuiton” squeaky toy looks like a real designer purse). I popped in the provided batteries and discovered that the toy is nearly impossible to turn off once they’re in there. You can twist the on-off knob as much as you want, but the batteries bounce around inside like they’ve got a mind of their own and will randomly find a connection. I strongly advise against storing this “discreet” toy in your purse.

 
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